Tag Archives: Hiroto Kobukata

NPB 2020 Oct. 15

Thursday’s games

Other news

Hasegawa slams clinches Hawks sweep

After being shutout in two straight games, the Orix Buffaloes finally managed to score, but 14-year veteran Yuya Hasegawa broke up a close game in the sixth inning with his first career grand slam in the SoftBank Hawks’ 9-4 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

The three-game sweep moved the Hawks four games clear atop the Pacific League standings ahead of the Lotte Marines, who lost 6-0 at home to the Rakuten Eagles. The Hawks have won the last three Japan Series, but haven’t won a PL pennant since 2017.

Hawks right-hander Shuta Ishikawa (8-3) was hard to hit as usual with his customary lack of command. He allowed two runs over five innings on three hits, two walks and three hit batsmen.

Akira Nakamura singled in the tie-breaking run in the sixth and Hasegawa, pinch-hitting for Wladimir Balentien, faced new pitcher Motoki Higa after Taiki Tajima (4-5) loaded the bases with one out.

Yurisbel Gracial went 3-for-4 with two runs for the Hawks, while Steven Moya went 2-for-4 with an RBI double for Orix.

Eagles close on 2nd behind Kishi shutout

Takayuki Kishi threw his first shutout in two years as the Rakuten Eagles moved to within four games of the second-place Lotte Marines with a 6-0 win at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

At the same park where in May 2014 he threw his only no-hitter while a member of the Seibu Lions, Kishi (4-0) struck out 13, one shy of his career high, set in 2018. The right-hander allowed two hits and walked one.

Good breaks and good swings put the visitors in front in a four-run second against Kazuya Ojima (7-7). Stefen Romero hit a flare off the end of the bat for a leadoff single. Kazuki Tanaka chased a pitch out of the zone but hit it well for a single. A fielders choice on a sacrifice loaded the bases with no outs.

Rookie Hiroto Kobukata lined a fastball down the pipe for a two-run double and Daichi Suzuki followed with a two-run single off his former team. Romero went 3-for-4 with two runs for the Eagles.

Double-time Kondo ravages Lions

Kensuke Kondo doubled four times, singled, scored twice and drove in four early runs in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 8-3 win over the Seibu Lions at Sapporo Dome.

The Fighters’ top two hitters, Haruki NIshikawa and Shota Hiranuma each reached in the first and second, helping the Fighters build a quick 5-0 lead against Zach Neal (4-5).

Nick Martinez (2-6) allowed three runs over six innings on three hits and three walks to earn the win. 2019 MVP Tomoya Mori accounted for all three Lions runs with a three-run, third-inning home run, his eighth.

Takahashi picks up Dragons pen

The Chunichi Dragons’ bullpen blew a lead for the first time in ages, but Shuhei Takahashi belted a three-run walk-off homer against Hanshin Tigers closer Robert Suarez (2-1) in a 5-3 win at Nagoya Dome.

After back-to-back shutout wins in the series’ first two games, Takahiro Matsuba worked five scoreless innings despite putting two men on in three of them. Yoichi Oshima singled to open the Dragons’ first and scored on a Zoilo Almonte single.

Matsuba also had two hits and contributed to one of Chunichi’s runs, when Oshima doubled in a run in the fourth to make it 2-0.

Dragons relievers Keisuke Tanimoto and Hiroto Fuku kept the Tigers scoreless through seven before Daisuke Sobue blew the lead in Hanshin’s three-run eighth. Jon Edwards worked a scoreless eighth to preserve the visitors’ only lead of the series, but things went south in the ninth.

With one out and two on, Dayan Viciedo lined out to second. Reserve second baseman Kai Ueda’s throw to double off the runner at second was wild and put the winning run at second with two outs

Suarez threw Takahashi a 1-1 159-kph fastball down the pipe, and he hit it off the end of the bat. The fly ball sliced but just stayed fair down the left-field line for an opposite-field three-run home run.

Matsuyama salvages draw for Carp

Ryuhei Matsuyama hit a Tokyo Dome special, a high opposite-field fly to the the dome’s invitingly close walls in straight-away left and right, for a two-run game-tying home run for the Hiroshima Carp in their 5-5 10-inning tie against the Yomiuri Giants.

The Carp had a golden opportunity to break the tie in the eighth but it died in a failed squeeze attempt.

Ryosuke Kikuchi, the Carp’s seven-time Golden Glove Award-winning second baseman, set a Central League record by recording 434 consecutive errorless chances.

“If you ask me, a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage is boring, since human beings make mistakes and you want to know the guy out there is human.”

–Pro Yakyu News analyst Yutaka Takagi, when asked about Kikuchi’s chances of surpassing his own single-season record for highest fielding percentage at second base.

Giants-Carp highlights.

Rookie Yoshida holds off BayStars’

Rookie right-hander Daiki Yoshida (2-6) allowed two runs over six innings and drove in one run with a sacrifice fly in the Yakult Swallows’ 4-3 win over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.

Keita Sano opened the scoring in the second inning by homering for the fourth straight game, but the Swallows took the lead in the home half on Yoshida’s sac fly. The Swallows’ Munetaka Murakami hit his 22nd home run, while Takayuki Kajitani hit his 17th for DeNA.

Active roster moves 10/15/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 10/25

Central League

Activated

BayStarsP59Kentaro Taira
TigersP22Kyuji Fujikawa
DragonsP38Takahiro Matsuba
SwallowsP28Daiki Yoshida

Dectivated

GiantsP47Takahiro Fujioka
SwallowsP64Ren Kazahari

Pacific League

Activated

BuffaloesP66Ryo Yoshida

Dectivated

BuffaloesP11Sachiya Yamasaki
BuffaloesP15Yudai Aranishi

Starting pitchers for Oct. 16, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Tatsuya Imai (3-3, 6.08) vs Taisuke Yamaoka (2-4, 2.76)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kota Futaki (6-2, 3.33) vs Toshihiro Sugiura (6-4, 3.09)

Hawks vs Eagles: PayPay Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Matt Moore (4-3, 3.06) vs Takahiro Shiomi (4-7, 4.41)

Central League

BayStars vs Giants: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shoichi Ino (6-6, 4.07) vs Nobutaka Imamura (3-2, 3.99)

Tigers vs Swallows: Koshien Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Yuki Nishi (9-4, 2.18) vs Hiroaki Saiuchi (1-1, 4.82)

Carp vs Dragons: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Hiroki Tokoda (3-6, 5.92) vs Yariel Rodriguez (2-4, 4.12)

NPB 2020 Sept. 13

Lions’ Matsumoto turns back Hawks

Shuta Tonosaki opened the game with a home run and Wataru Matsumoto (3-3) worked seven scoreless innings to outduel Shuta Ishikawa (6-2) in the Seibu Lions’ 1-0 win over the SoftBank Hawks at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.

Tonosaki appeared to geared up for a fastball and when Ishikawa threw a straight 1-0 pitch down the pipe, the Lions super utility man drove it well back into the permanent seats in left for his fifth home run.

The Hawks threatened to score in the home half when Taisei Makihara squared up a first-pitch center-cut fastball for a leadoff double. But Matsumoto’s fastball was too much for Akira Nakamura who continually hit under it, fouling it off twice before a popping up for the first out. After a cautiously walking Yuki Yanagita, Yurisbel Gracial grounded a low fastball into a double play.

Matsumoto got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, again with some extra mustard on his fastball, as the normally deadly Nakamura miss-hit a heater to second for an inning-ending groundout.

Ishikawa allowed four hits, two walks and hit a batter while striking out six in a typically solid performance, but after Lions middle reliever Kaima  Taira set the Hawks down in order, the hosts wasted a two-on no-out chance in the ninth against closer Tatsushi Masuda.

A sacrifice advanced two pinch-runners into scoring position, Masuda overpowered grinding right-handed hitter Keizo Kawashima for the second out, and then came within a hair of disaster. The right-hander missed up with a 1-0 fastball that Makihara hammered down the third base line where it was caught by Wu Nien-ting for the final out instead of going for a game-winning two-run single. The save was Masuda’s 17th.

Eagles outpunch Fighters

The Rakuten Eagles tattooed Kohei Arihara (4-7) for nine runs over 2-1/3 innings, who wasted a six-run second inning against Takayuki Kishi in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 14-6 loss at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.

Hideto Asamura opened the scoring for the hosts in the first inning with his 22nd home run, a two-run shot, but the Haruki Nishikawa’s three-run shot capped the visitors’ six-run second.

The Eagles tied in the third and took the lead in a three-run third on rookie Hiroto Kobukata’s RBI single. Kobukata, who singled and scored in the second, added a two-run double in the third.

The loss snapped a streak of four-straight solid outings for Arihara. Kishi stayed on the mound for 3-1/3 innings.

Fan-favorite Watanabe to hang it up

The game broadcast repeatedly cut to shots of Eagles player coach Naoto Watanabe, who announced he would retire at the end of the season.

A native of Miyagi Prefecture where Sendai is located, the 39-year-old Watanabe is a serviceable middle infielder. In his first few years was a good on-base percentage hitter and efficient base stealer for the Eagles before stints with the BayStars and Lions. A fan favorite in Sendai, he returned to Rakuten in 2018, but had played in 88 games since.

But if Japan likes melodrama more than almost anything, so when asked about Watanabe, manager Hajime Miki gushed during his postgame interview.

“We have a lot of emotions when it comes to Naoto and the players all agreed we should dedicate the rest of this season to him, so that his last year as a player is something special.”

–Eagles manager Hajime Miki on player-coach Naoto Watanabe’s announcing he would retire at the end of the season.

Marines breakthrough against Buffaloes pen

Manabu Mima (7-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and the Lotte Marines scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh off lefty reliever Nobuyoshi Yamada (2-3) to break up a tie game in a 9-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Hisanori Yasuda doubled in single runs in the first and third off Taiwan right-hander Chang Yi, who left after allowing two runs on two hits and four walks over five innings.

The Buffaloes tied it in the top of the seventh on a Masataka Yoshida RBI double, but Yoshida was gunned down at the plate trying to score against Leonys Martin’s arm to end the inning.

In a game twice interrupted by rain delays, Mima struck out seven without issuing a walk. He collected the win when the Marines began their seventh-inning rally after two were down. Yasuda capped the inning with a two-run single. The Marines’ 21-year-old rookie cleanup hitter has been struggling since a hot start to the season.

“Mima did a great job of shaking off the rain delays and staying on his game,” Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said. “Real veteran stuff from him. Yasuda, has been having a hard time of it, and sure this game is a big relief to him, so he can mover forward now with a refreshed outlook.”

Martin piled on in the eighth with a three-run double for the Marines.

Dragons ride lucky bounce past stars

The DeNA BayStars lost a big first-inning double play when a batted ball deflected off the second-base bag, costing them two runs in their 3-2 loss to the Chunichi Dragons at Yokohama Stadium.

With two on and no outs, and the BayStars left-handed hitter Zoilo Almonte’s grounder was headed straight up the middle to where shortstop Yota Kyoda was poised to pick it and start an easy double play until the ball struck the bag and rolled into shallow left for an RBI single. With no outs, Dayan Viciedo supplied a sac fly before starting pitcher Shinichi Onuki (6-3) got out of the inning with a double play.

Neftali Soto homered off former ace Kazuki Fushimi in the first, but both bullpens shut the door after the fourth inning. Onuki lasted six innings, allowing three runs. Dragons closer Raidel Martinez struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 12th save.

“Onuki pitched a really good game today. The first inning he gave up a couple of hits, but those balls were good pitches and they just put good swings on good pitches. Other than that, he did a tremendous job today,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said. “Sometimes the ball bounces like that. It’s baseball. After he (Soto) hit a home run, I thought we would be able to score more runs. But we’re hitting pretty good. We couldn’t just come up with the big hit at the right moment. That happens.”

Maru homer lifts Giants past Swallows

Yoshihiro Maru’s 15th home run overturned a 1-0 fourth-inning deficit as the Yomiuri Giants came back to beat the Yakult Swallows 3-1 at Tokyo Dome.

Cristopher Mercedes (4-4) allowed a run over 5-1/3 innings, leaving after a one-out sixth-inning walk put two on with one out. Yohei Kagiya struck out both batters he faced and with Monday a day off, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara made liberal use of his bullpen, finishing with Rubby De La Rosa, who earned his 12th save.

Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-3) allowed three runs over six innings on seven hits and two walks. He struck out eight.

Giants-Swallows highlights

Suarez, Yokawa boost Tigers

Closer Robert Suarez (2-0) who has recently been tasked with getting four-out saves, entered a tie game in the eighth inning and earned the win after Naomasa Yokawa homered in the bottom of the eighth in the Hanshin Tigers’ 7-6 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Koshien Stadium.

Seiya Suzuki’s three-run homer in the top of the first put the Carp in front against Shintaro Fujinami, but the Tigers came back to score five runs, four earned, off Hiroshima starter Kazuki Yabuta.

Kento Itohara and Justin Bour singled in one run apiece in the first and third innings to put the Tigers in front briefly before the game turned into a battle of the bullpens, which the Tigers eventually won.

Active roster moves 9/13/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/23

Central League

Activated

GiantsIF51Shunta Tanaka
DragonsP19Kazuki Yoshimi

Dectivated

GiantsP33Ryu Ota

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP11Takayuki Kishi
FightersP49Katsuhiko Kumon

Dectivated

HawksP18Shota Takeda

Starting pitchers for Sept. 14, 2020

Pacific League

Eagles vs Fighters: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Takahiro Shiomi (4-5, 4.60) vs Drew VerHagen (5-3, 4.16)

Marines vs Buffaloes: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kota Futaki (3-2, 4.73) vs Andrew Albers (3-5, 3.62)

NPB 2020 8-15 games and news

Ogawa becomes Japan’s 82nd to throw no-no

Yakult Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa became the 82nd top-flight pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Japanese pro baseball on Saturday, when he struck out 10 and walked three in a 9-0 Central League win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Ogawa, whose nickname comes from the Nolan Ryan leg kick he adopted as a youngster, became the first Swallows pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Rick Guttormson achieved the feat in May 2006. It was the 93rd no-hitter, called a “no-hit, no-run” game in the history of Japanese pro ball. No-hitter’s aren’t awarded without a shutout.

Ogawa, who leaned heavily on his fastball and splitter, issued a first-inning walk, while the BayStars managed a runner in the second, when rookie right fielder Taiki Hamada went down to a knee to catch a line drive, only for the ball to spill out of the webbing of his glove for an error.

The Swallows hit BayStars ace Shota Imanaga like a truck, scoring six runs, three earned, off the lefty on six hits and three walks over 3-1/3 innings.

Seven of Ogawa’s 10 strikeouts came after he had a 6-0 lead, and after Hamada’s misplay, the right-hander retired the next 12 batters before he walked Tatsuhiro Shibata with tow outs in the sixth.

Ogawa needed 102 pitches to get through the seventh and his no-hit bid was looking bleak when he walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth after a 10-pitch battle. Daisuke Nakai smacked his next pitch to short, but what looked like two quick outs soon looked like a long tough inning when second baseman Taishi Hirooka dropped the throw from his shortstop.

The first BayStars runner to reach second, would also be the last as Ogawa needed just 22 pitches to finish off the last six hitters, recording his final strike out with pitch No. 135 to end it.

Dragons’ Rodriguez stops Giants

Yariel Rodriguez went seven impressive innings for the Chunichi Dragons in their 7-4 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.

The 23-year-old, who joined the Dragons on a non-roster developmental contract on Feb. 5 and was added to the 70-man roster on July 1, allowed a run on six hits, a walk and a hit batsman while striking out nine.

Dayan Viciedo hit his 10th home run of the season in the fourth, a no-out, two-run shot off Giants lefty Kazuto Taguchi (2-2) to make it 3-0. Nobumasa Fukuda, who had an RBI single in the first, walked ahead of Viciedo’s homer and also walked and scored in Chunichi’s four-run eighth.

Zelous Wheeler had three hits, including his sixth home run, a ninth-inning solo shot off closer Raidel Martinez.

Giants-Dragons highlights.

Para to be deactivated with bum knee

The Yomiuri Giants indicated Saturday that they will deactivate outfielder Gerardo Parra, who is suffering from pain in his right knee, the Nikkan Sports reported.

“It’s been troubling him since well before this,” head coach Daisuke Motoki said. “It looked like he was in pain both when he ran and when he batted, so we’ve decided not to push him. Instead we want him to go to the farm team, get it healed and come back.”

Bour, Sands maul Carp in Tigers win

First-year imports Justin Bour and Jerry Sands each drove in three runs, and Yuki Nishi (3-3) allowed two runs over seven innings as the Hanshin Tigers whipped the Hiroshima Carp 10-2 at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.

Carp ace Daichi Osera (4-2) was hammered for five runs on eight hits over five innings.

Sands drove in the game’s first run with an infield single, but went to the other end of the spectrum with his ninth home run, a two-run shot, in the sixth that made it 8-2.

Bullpen to the rescue as Buffaloes snap skid

Takahiro Okada’s two-run “excuse-me-swing” single opened the floodgates for the Orix Buffaloes, and their bullpen kept the SoftBank Hawks in check in an 8-2 win on Saturday afternoon to snap their seven-game losing streak.

Coming off a tough loss in which their starting pitcher did everything well except keep Yuki Yanagita from crushing a well-executed inside fastbal, the Buffaloes caught some breaks in a two-run first before hammering Hawks starter Akira Niho (3-4) for three more in the second.

The Buffaloes opened the scoring on Shuhei Fukuda’s one-out walk, a Yuma Mune single up the middle and a two-out, two-run double when Okada was fooled by 1-2 splitter out of the zone. The left-handed slugger managed to hit it off the end of the bat for a flare that dropped in shallow left that gave the visitors the lead.

Orix starter Kazumasa Yoshida worked three scoreless innings. He gave up two singles and two walks, and twice disposed of Yanagita on two pitches, including just one fastball well out of the zone.

The Buffaloes took the air out of the game in the second. Masato Matsui looked like he was sitting on a curveball when he drove an 0-1 breaking ball to the track for a one-out double. Niho failed to glove a comebacker for an error and hit a batter to load the bases for Fukuda, who drilled a hanging two-seamer for a two-run single. Masaki Mimori robbed Mune of a single with a diving catch of a liner to second only for Masataka Yoshida to bang an RBI double and make it 5-0.

Right-hander Yudai Aranishi made some good pitches to Wladimir Balentien, but Japan’s single-season home run record holder homered off the bat to center. Rookie right-hander Ryo Yoshida (1-1), the third of Orix’s seven-pitcher parade, was awarded his first career win for pitching a scoreless fifth.

Arihara gets it done in Fighters’ rout

Kohei Arihara (2-5) put his struggles behind him for one night as he struck out nine over seven scoreless innings, and Sho Nakata drove in three early runs in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 9-0 win over the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

Nakata belted his 16th homer, a two-run shot off Kota Futaki (1-2) in the fourth. The right-hander allowed four runs over seven innings to take the loss.

Eagles tie it off Lions top relievers

The two rocks in the Seibu Lions bullpen this season, setup man Reed Garrett and closer Tatsushi Masuda, combined to blow a late 3-0 lead against the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome. Their game was called a 3-3 tie after 10 innings.

The Lions took a three-run first-inning lead on a Hotaka Yamakawa RBI double and Ernest Mejia’s two run home run, his fifth in five games. Rookie Wtaru Matsumoto left the game after seven shutout innings, having allowed one hit and three walks.

With the Lions’ game in their best hands, the Eagles struck. Ryosuke Tatsumi homered with one out in the eighth, and rookie Hiroto Kobukata doubled and scored on an Eigoro Mogi single.

Hiroaki Shimauchi singled to open the Eagles’ ninth and scored the tying run on a Tatsumi single.

Active roster moves 8/15/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/25

Central League

Activated

SwallowsOF65Shotaro Tashiro

Dectivated

None

Pacific League

Activated

EaglesP13Kohei Morihara
EaglesP21Yoshinao Kamata
MarinesP20Taiki Tojo
FightersC10Yushi Shimizu

Dectivated

EaglesP72Shun Ikeda
EaglesP91Yuya Kubo
MarinesP33Masaki Minami
FightersP28Ryusei Kawano
FightersP63Ryuji Kitaura

Starting pitchers for Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020

Pacific League

p>Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Keisuke Honda (0-4, 3.76) vs Yuya Fukui (0-1, 1.69)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 5 pm, 4 am EDT

Toshiya Nakamura (1-0, 3.42) vs Drew VerHagen (4-1, 3.02)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Shuta Ishikawa (4-0, 2.39) vs Andrew Albers (2-4, 3.35)

Central League

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 1 pm, 12 midnight EDT

Seishu Hatake (0-1, 3.18) vs Yudai Ono (2-3, 3.35)

BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Kentaro Taira (3-2, 1.72) vs Hirofumi Yamanaka (0-1, 3.00)

Tigers vs Carp: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Takumi Akiyama (4-1, 4.30) vs Atsushi Endo (2-2, 4.38)

NPB 2020 8-13 games and news

Otake frustrates Buffaloes in season debut

Kotaro Otake made a lot out of a little on Thursday as his low-velocity deliveries frustrated hitters and helped earn him the win in his belated season debut as the SoftBank Hawks beat the Orix Buffaloes 3-1 to remain in a tie for first place in the Pacific League.

Otake, who has been with the minor league squad since feeling stiffness in his left elbow in camp and was 4-0 in the Western League, allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three over 5-2/3 innings. Although it was an impressive effort, Otake got off to a rocky start.

In the first inning, he challenged leadoff hitter Tatsuya Yamaashi with a 1-0 fastball down the pipe. But it wasn’t a very good one, and the light-hitting reserve showed what a professional hitter can do when giving a cookie, driving it well back in PayPay Dome’s left-field stands for his third career home run.

But otherwise, the Buffaloes hitters struggled to time Otake’s speeds: slow, slower, and molasses, as he mixed his 136-kph (84.5 mph) fastball with a two-seamer, a changeup and a curve. His occasional high misses didn’t hurt him as much as they perhaps changed batters’ eye levels. The end result was a lot of soft contact. Orix didn’t hit anything reasonably hard until Jones doubled with two outs in the fourth.

The Hawks wasted two walks in the first inning against Taiwanese right-hander Chang Yi but made up for it in the second. Kenta Imamiya led off with his fifth home run, Takuya Kai walked with one out and scored on leadoff man Ukyo Shuto’s two-out triple. Akira Nakamura singled and scored an insurance run in the fifth after a Ryoya Kurihara single and a Kenji Akashi double.

Chang (0-1) allowed six hits and three walks over his five innings. The right-hander, a cousin of NPB veterans Yang Dai-kang and Yang Yao-hsun, was taken by the Buffaloes in the first round of the 2016 developmental draft out of Japan University of Economics.

Otake issued his only walk of the game in the sixth and after retiring slugging left-handed hitters Masataka Yoshida and Takahiro Okada, was pulled for a righty with Jones coming to the plate. Arata Shiino got out of the inning on five pitches, and Yugo Bando, Livan Moinelo and Yuito Mori finished up with a scoreless inning each. Mori earned his 12th save.

Eagles keep pace with win over Lions

Rookie Hiroto Kobukata reached base four times and scored three runs for the Rakuten Eagles in their 7-4 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo. The win kept the Eagles tied with the Hawks for the PL lead.

Former closer Yuki Matsui allowed three runs on six hits over three innings. He left the game with a 4-3 lead and right-hander Tomohito Sakai retired all six batters he faced over two innings to earn the win. Ryosuke Tatsumi broke a 1-1 tie in the third with his fifth home run, a leadoff shot off Lions rookie Kaito Yoza (2-4).

Yoza allowed four runs over 2-1/3 innings as the Lions needed eight pitchers to get them through the night.

J.T. Chargois worked a scoreless eighth for Rakuten, while submarine right-hander Kazuhisa Makita worked the ninth to earn his first save in Japan since he saved three in 2015 for the Lions.

Marines power past Fighters

Leonys Martin’s fifth home run in six games was one of three solo shot the Lotte Marines hit in a three-run fifth en route to overcoming a five-run deficit in their 8-5 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.

After Tsuyoshi Sugano doubled home Seiya Inoue with the tying run in the sixth, Martin reached on an error in the seventh and scored the go-ahead run.

The Marines comeback made a winner out of Jose Flores (1-1). The 31-year-old right-hander from Venezuela spent 10 years in the minors with the Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants. The Marines acquired him from the Toyama Thunderbirds of Japan’s independent Baseball Challenge League.

Giants bang, bloop their way to comeback win

Yoshiyuki Kamei’s ninth-inning pinch-hit single lifted the Yomiuri Giants to a 4-3 walk-off win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome.

Lefty Cristopher Mercedes allowed three doubles and a walk in a three-run first, and spent his remaining five innings on the mound pitching with me on base but allowing no more runs.

The Giants closed within a run on back-to-back two-out solo homers in the fourth inning from Yoshihiro Maru and Hiroyuki Nakajima. The hosts tied it in the fifth on a two-out bloop RBI single by cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto. Swallows right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi allowed three runs over six innings, and two relievers kept it tied until right-hander Yuma Oshita (0-1) allowed a leadoff single.

After a stolen base, Kamei pinch hit and got enough of the first pitch thrown by Scott McGough to hit a fly into shallow center that won it.

ToSpo pandering to the populists

There’s always some writer somewhere who’ll put a populist or racist spin on something they probably don’t understand. The Tokyo Sports used to have a pretty sordid reputation for writing the most loathsome stuff and one writer of theirs seems keen to resurrect that image when he wrote a story titled “Manager Hara spills the real truth behind Parra’s substitution.”

Hara pulled Gerardo Parra out of the game during the top of the sixth inning, and Tokyo Sports would like us to think because he was solely because he wasn’t hustling on a foul fly that dropped safely.

The manager said, “You saw what happened. It looked he was favoring his leg,” although the Tokyo Sports neglected to mention that last bit. Instead, it implied Parra was fit because no trainer came out and didn’t look hurt. They then reminded readers of the time when a Japanese star was not hustling and was sent home by Hara, implying that was the reason here.

The real truth is the thing that story wasn’t interested in when a pile of made-up shit made a better headline.

Yamada rejoins Swallows

Yakult Swallows second baseman Tetsuto Yamada was activated on Thursday and practiced as usual with the team before their game against the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome, according to the Nikkan Sports.

He was deactivated on July 27, ostensibly due to lack of upper body fitness, whatever that means.

Despaigne, Gracial to start on farm

Big-hitting Cubans Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial practiced with the Hawks Western League farm team on Thursday, and are scheduled to play in Friday’s home WL game against the Hiroshima Carp, the Nishinihon Sports reports.

The pair had gone to Cuba train with the national team in March ahead of World Baseball Classic qualifying. After qualifying was canceled, they were unable to travel to Japan until Havana’s airport re-opened for international travel in July.

The two arrived in Japan last month despite Japan’s ban on foreign nationals entering the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. After they completed quarantine they were to train with the farm team until minor league operations were suspended after infections were discovered at the minor league facility. Instead, they traveled to Sendai last week and trained with the first team.

Tigers drop Fujikawa

The Hanshin Tigers have deactivated 40-year-old reliever Kyuji Fujikawa. According to the Hochi Shimbun, the move was made due to the dreaded “lack of upper body fitness” although the article specified the afflicted area to be the right side of his upper body.

Fujikawa, who converted every save opportunity he faced after being restored to the closer’s role last summer for the first time in seven seasons, has been largely ineffective this year. He was deactivated on July 12 due to right shoulder fitness.

Active roster moves 8/13/2020

Deactivated players can be re-activated from 8/23

Central League

Activated

SwallowsIF1Tetsuto Yamada

Dectivated

TigersP22Kyuji Fujikawa
CarpP58DJ Johnson
DragonsP25Yu Sato
DragonsP59Takumi Yamamoto
DragonsIF7Akira Neo
SwallowsP24Tomoya Hoshi

Pacific League

Activated

HawksP10Kotaro Otake
MarinesP24Yusuke Azuma
BuffaloesP98Chang Yi

Dectivated

HawksP21Tsuyoshi Wada
MarinesP41Kakeru Narita
BuffaloesIF31Ryo Ota

Starting pitchers for Friday, Aug. 14, 2020

Pacific League

Lions vs Eagles: MetLife Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Zach Neal (2-2, 4.47) vs Takahiro Norimoto (3-3, 3.66)

Marines vs Fighters: Zozo Marine Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Ayumu Ishikawa (2-2, 3.83) vs Ryuji Kitaura (-)

Hawks vs Buffaloes: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT

Nao Higashihama (2-1, 3.02) vs Sachiya Yamasaki (2-1, 4.40)

Central League

Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shosei Togo (4-2, 2.86) vs Takahiro Matsuba (2-2, 2.42)

BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shinichi Onuki (4-2, 1.91) vs Daiki Yoshida (1-1, 5.40)

Tigers vs Carp: Kyocera Dome 6 pm, 5 am EDT

Shintaro Fujinami (0-3, 2.57) vs Masato Morishita (3-2, 2.87)

Camping World: Feb. 22, 2020 – Let the games begin

This is the one week of the year where Japanese baseball looks like that in the majors. Teams are in camp and playing preseason games. Very often the games played until the final week of February are “practice” games, where rules can be bent to suit the needs of the managers. But once the “open season” begins, those games’ stats are recorded.

On Saturday, eight teams were in action, with most of the attention focused on the BayStars – Eagles game because Rakuten southpaw Yuki Matsui started in line with new manager Hajime Miki’s plan to move him out of the closer’s role. The other player of interest was the Eagles’ top draft pick, 24-year-old shortstop Hiroto Kobukata.

The Swallows – Carp game saw Hiroshima’s first pick, Meji University right-hander Masato Morishita and Yakult’s second pick, Japan Sport Science University right-hander Daiki Yoshida.

Morishita’s debut

Morishita looks much as he did last year as an amateur, a right-hander who balances about three seconds on his back leg before going to the plate. The one difference appears to be his arm slot. He had been high 3/4 in college, but was nearly 12-6 in the first inning. Ostensibly, he’d been tasked with making some adjustments in his previous bullpen session, and one wonders whether his arm slot was part of that. From the second inning it looked closer to what it had been in college and his command was spot on.

He allowed two runs in the first, basically because of his command. Few of the balls had anything coming off the bat, and his slider was particularly sharp.

Not “real” baseball

If one needs proof that these games are meaningless, one can look at Morishita’s not being ejected in the first inning for a “dangerous pitch.” A curve slipped out of his hand and traced an eephus arc before striking Alcides Escobar on the top of his helmet. Had this been a regular season game, the umpires would have been compelled to eject him for hitting a batter in the head.

Escobar “suits” Japanese ball

Escobar, the Swallows’ new shortstop, was praised as a good fit for Japanese baseball by the crew broadcasting the game, ostensibly because of what he can’t do. Other than his size, the 33-year-old Venezuelan fits Japan’s cookie-cutter image of a middle infielder: Plays good defense, runs and bunts well, while not being able to hit for power or reach base.

Goodness gracious.

One crowded infield

New Carp manager Shinji Sasaoka is trying out lots of combinations in his infield. He brought in second-year shortstop Kaito Kozono to play second, and the 2018 No. 1 pick did a reasonable impression of Ryosuke Kikuchi with the glove with a good charge toward the mound and a sharp throw to first across his body.

Former Yankees and Padres utility man Jose Pirela, who has impressed with the bat in camp, was tried out at third. Having spent most of his time with the Yankees and Padres at second base and in left field. He has good hands, it looked from this game like third base might be a challenge for his arm strength.

Nice start for Yoshida

While the Swallows’ top draft pick, high school star Yoshinobu Okugawa was throwing his first bullpen of the spring hundreds of miles away in Yakult’s minor league camp after hurting his arm in January, second-round pick Yoshida had two innings in the spotlight.

The 1.75-meter Yoshida has a super smooth delivery that looks like it was modeled on Tomoyuki Sugano’s although he doesn’t look like he’s trying to throw the ball through a wall like Sugano sometimes does. Yoshida, who has been used as the setup guy for the national collegiate team, has an above-average fastball with some hop to it, and showed a decent changeup and a slider, neither of which he commanded nearly as well as his four-seam fastball.

He located the fastball and missed some barrels with the change and retired all six batters he faced.

Matsui goes back to starting line

Yuki Matsui, who came to national prominence in high school for being able to survive extraordinarily high pitch counts, failed as a starter in his 2014 rookie season. That year he walked 67 batters in 116 innings, but was reincarnated as a closer the following season.

His English NPB page is HERE.

Matsui looked fairly uncomfortable, threw a lot of straight fastballs, missed his locations. He faced 18 batters and surrendered a pile of hard-hit balls while walking two batters and hitting one.

He did throw a number of quality sliders, and those kept the day from being a complete disaster.

Mirror, mirror

Yesterday, I filled out a scouting report on Eagles second pick Fumiya Kurokawa. A muscular second baseman, Kurokawa resembles current Eagles second baseman Hideto Asamura. Kobukata, the top draft pick, is a small left-handed hitting shortstop like Rakuten’s incumbent at the position, Eigoro Mogi.

Kobukata started and had three hits, all ground balls pulled through the right side of the infield. He looked OK with the glove. I don’t know if it’s a Japanese thing but like Kurokawa, Kobukata takes an extra step to set his feet before he throws. When he does cut loose, however, he has a gun with some good carry.

The other news from that game was the absence of new BayStars import Tyler Austin, who has been smoking hot all spring, due to stiffness in his right elbow.